Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kaats' Blog - the "Zeeuwse Mutsen"- kayak-project?

Picture - Installation "Bewijs Stukken" - courtesy Kaat Hastings Sloggat

During the last weeks I got messages from several Dutch seakayakers who started blogging. Most of them write in Dutch, so I decided to add a dedicated list of Dutch links to this page. The first "new" blogging kayaker I like to introduce is Kaat. I met Kaat for the first time as she participated in my Zeevaardigheids-group at Vlieland 2005. For some reason Kaat missed the first two days of that course. She arrived one or two days later at Vlieland. The other participants were all male - after two days paddling together, a coherent group was formed and the men were curious about "that girl" that would join the group next day. To be fair: they were a bit worried: " Would she fit in our group ?" I can be very short about this: Kaat struck us all! And that's no wonder with Kaat's energy and striking personality. Since that week I have often had the pleasure of Kaat paddling in my groups. She was also present in 2006 at the Spiekeroog-course, where Theo also participated. Now Kaat and Theo are blogging together.

Kaat is not only an enthusiast paddler but also a creative artist. From home base Wageningen Kaat does all kind of cultural activities, ranging from performances, video's, musical to figurative art. The picture above this post comes from Kaat's Cultural Blog.
Today I discovered a cross-over between Kaat's cultural and kayaking projects. It's called the "Zeeuwse Mutsen"-project and comes with a blog and a website. I can't properly translate "Zeeuwse Mutsen", but I will try to explain. "Mutsen" is a plural for "cap", "Zeeuwse" means "from Zeeland" - a region part of the Netherlands. So "Zeeuwse mutsen" stands for the traditional headdress women of Zeeland used to wear. That's one part of the explanation. The other part is that "Muts" in Dutch is also a non-flattering description of a woman. Now to the essence of Kaat's project: that's bringing together a group of enthusiast female seakayakers and organizing an exclusive women-only kayak-weekend in Zeeland. This weekend the 2007 edition of the "Zeeuwse Mutsen" - project takes place. I am sure they will have a great weekend. The more women get enthusiast for seakayaking, the better.
For the paddle in the Voordelta I organize this weekend I have got 18 entries: 17 man, 1 woman... I wondered why, but now I know: competing with Kaat's "Zeeuwse Mutsen-weekend"... ;-)

Kaat at Vlieland 2005 - the guy in the red T-shirt is Jörgen.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The making of a greenland paddle

Result of 1 day working with wood: 7 new Greenland sticks - picture by Tom van Steenbergen

Tom and Dick of held a workshop Greenland Paddel Carving at the local kayak club of Amersfoort. I enjoyed a full day of woodworking - hard labour, but very relaxing. Still a bit sanding and oiling to do, but I am proud of my custom made stick. Can't wait to get out and do some greenland rolls with it! Up to now it was mostly a bit improvisation with an Euro-bladed paddle.

I will bring the stick along in the pool sessions this winter: time to practice what we learned from Freya in the Underground Rolling Factory!

Don't blame your paddle: Andrew recently posted a must-see video at his blog in which Leon Somme shows next to Dubside that almost all Greenland rolls, can be done with a Euro-blade. I manage some, but the Palluusineq (sculling on chest) with a euro blade is self-drowning for me. Leon makes it look like a piece of cake.

Thanks to Dick and Tom for a perfect workshop!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Voordelta - Lighthouse "het Westhoofd"

"Het Westhoofd" is one of the last manned lighthouses in the Netherlands. The coastguard station Ouddorp (VHF Channel 25) is located here. Probably this won't be for long anymore: Dutch Ministry of Transport intends to centralize Coastguard-control and to change "het Westhoofd" in a completely distance operated traffic control station. Radar and camera's will take over the job of the coastguard crew. A bad plan: no matter how sophisticated technical monitoring systems may be, they are no substitute for the human factor. We will not only miss the services and the local knowledge of coastguard crew of Ouddorp, the lack of the visual observations of the crew will also be a safety issue, especial for recreational traffic!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A farewell trip in the Voordelta

Kayaks on the beach of Goeree near "het Westhoofd" with the skyline of "Maasvlakte I" in the background. Note: this picture is taken with a strong telephoto lens: the distance from the kayaks to the power station on the Maasvlakte is about 18 km. The dark sky has a double meaning...

Today I paddled with Joris in the Voordelta. It was a cool, cloudy fall day, with exceptional good sight. More details about the trip later, first what came in my mind: 2 seasonal rambling remarks...

(1) Farewell Summer! The mornings are getting cold: the first frost is in the air. Outdoor-activities in shorts and T-shirt are definitely over by now, alas (but that doesn't match with the Dutch seakayak-dresscode anyway ;-). Today I paddled in the Palm-Drysuit again - it has been stored in the kayak-gear-closet since Anglesey. Oh not, that's not correct: the Drysuit has been in England for repair: Palm has replaced the tape on some leaking seams. I must say the after-sales service of Palm is excellent! I do hope the repair is durable and leakage stays out.

(2) Farewell Aardappelenbult! This was probably one of the last paddle-trips above the flooded sandbank "de Aardappelenbult". From April or May next year on, this popular seakayak-destination will be a strictly closed area: thanks to the expansion of the world port of Rotterdam! Directly adjacent to the current harbour and industrial area, Rotterdam will create the Maasvlakte 2: a new location for harbour activities and industry in the North Sea: thousands of hectares of industrial terrain that lie on a deep waterway. It will be built by constructing a seawall in the sea. Sand will then be sprayed into the enclosed area, creating new land. The construction of Maasvlakte 2 will lead to a loss of sea habitat and to reduction of the quality of the Voorne dunes. It is legally required that this loss be compensated.
The loss of sea nature will be compensated through the establishment of a sea floor protection area of approximately 25,000 hectares in "the Voordelta" off the coast of Voorne-Putten, Goeree-Overflakkee and Schouwen-Duiveland. Within this sea bottom protection area, the nature will be given extra protection. In addition, smaller bird and seal "rest areas" will be designated in which supplementary rules will apply.

The Aardappelenbult is one of these "rest areas" - the rules that will apply on the "rest areas" mean that in the future any human access (including us seakayakers) in these zones is strictly forbidden. The Voordelta is an estuarine zone that's noticeably affected by tides. Almost the whole Aardappelenbult is covered by water during high tide, but the "rest area" will be permanently closed. It's not relevant if any activity does have any disturbing effect at any moment - no entrance is a general rule - all the time. Playing in the surf above the flooded Aardappelenbult won't be possible anymore. It's over...

Detailed information about the upcoming new rules for the Voordelta (in Dutch):
Please note:
The Dutch authorities consulted the Dutch kayak-organisations in an early stage about the nature compensation plans for Maasvlakte 2. Over the past two years we had an intense and constructive debate about the possibilities to mitigate the consequences of the plans for the seakayakers. In general there are no (new) limitations for seakayking in the sea floor protection zone. The only (but radical) exception are the rest area's. In these areas it's "nature above all". Nature interests have defined the number and the location of these area's, but the interests of the seakayakers have been taken in account by the final location of the borders of these zones: the borders are (whenever possible) located in a way that popular seakayak-routes stay possible. The most NE-tip of the Aardappelbult is kept out of the rest area "Bollen van de Ooster" to reserve a spot for surfing activities.
Said this, the compensation plans do seriously affect future seakayaking in the Voordelta.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Seakayaking in Denmark

Phone-cam picture by Janine, Copenhagen - Wednesday-evening

Janine is in Copenhagen for a few days: she attends some kind of international orientated EU-conference on social issues, with lectures during day time and receptions, meetings and other official ceremonies in the royal palace and the town hall in the evening. Meanwhile life in Woerden goes on and the kids were looking out for a message from their mother. We were a bit surprised that the first picture Janine sent us, showed three seakayakers paddling in the harbour of Copenhagen, instead of the Little Mermaid or an other known touristic highlight of Denmark's Capital...

Kayaking seems to be pretty popular in Denmark - Janine reported that every time she left the hotel (situated on one of the Copenhagen's quays) a group of paddlers passed by.
That(sea)kayaking is hot in Denmark shouldn't be really new if you regularly check out Peter's Blog. Btw: Peter's kayaking club isn't located in Copenhagen but near Aarhus (for EU-insiders also a familiar name: the Aarhus-convention - concerning acces to information on environmental issues)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dutch skies over Vlieland

picture by Michael Knoester

Merel has created a webalbum for the pictures of the participants of the NKB Vlielandkamp. The first 8 photographers have uploaded over 500 pictures and still more to come....
I picked out some great skies that Michael (top 3 photo's) and Patrick (photo no. 4) captured: there is no light like the Waddensee light!

The Vlielandalbum is public. For the participants, to upload pictures contact Merel or me for the login codes.

pictures courtesy by Michael Knoester and Patrick Dousi

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Culemborgse broodjes

Culemborgs' delicacies: a Spanish Sandwich in front, a French one in the background

Finally sun is back in Holland! After a period of dark days a high pressure zone has settled and brings calm but pleasant autumn weather - no wind, cool nights, some fog early in the morning and than sun and in the afternoon temperatures around 16 degrees. Ideal conditions for an active outdoor weekend. No paddling this time, today I had an appointment with Linda for a bike tour in the Green Heart of Holland. Linda proposed 3 hours biking. We first argued a bit about my interpretation that 3 hours bicycling means 90 km distance. Than we decided to bike from Woerden along the Lek (one of the branches of the Rhine in the Netherlands). When you can't be on the water, you should be next to it! Near Culemborg we crossed the Lek with the ferry and noticed some paddlers from a distance. In the bright sun it were only silhouettes, but I can tell kayakers apart from their silhouette, the way they sit in their kayak and their paddle style - it's some strange anomaly that I always analyze paddle styles- and I recognized Cees and Ad. Knowing they live around Culemborg helped a bit of course...

On the market place of Culemborg we couldn't resist a terrace in the sun and ordered two "broodjes" (sandwiches). Linda went for the French style sandwich and I took a Spanish one. It was a bit strange interpretation of a Spanish Ciabatta (C. is supposed to be Italian?). According to the menu the "Spaanse broodje" should come with salami, salat, dried tomatoes, marjoram and olive oil. To my big surprise it had all this with bacon and egg on top of it... This bizarre combination tasted good, but was heavy stuff: a lot of calories to burn away!
We finally arrived back in Woerden after just a bit more than 3 hours biking and 95 km. Not a bad comprise, is it Linda?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Yellow made this rainy gray day bright

14-10-2007: Because of bloody "9 to 5 activities" and a little motivational dip, I neglected the kayakblog a bit. As a matter of fact I started some posts lately, but didn't finish them. A phone-call with René brought back the spirit (thanks René!). So the next few days I will publish some older posts. This is one of them, dated about 1,5 weeks ago. René showed me a blog from Nigel Foster about the effect of the color of the kayak to the mind - amazing to read that even a great kayaker like Nigel is influenced by the color of a boat...

October makes a dark start, summer is really over now, sun has left Holland. Woerden is hidden under a thick layer of clouds, making everything look gray while rain is drizzling all day. As days shorten, I am supposed to spent my time from 9 to 5 in an office, not the best condition for a sunny mood. About a year ago I wrote about SAD and the Ljuscafé in Stockholm. Woerdens' number of stylish cafés has increased remarkably since the renovation of the town center is finished, but it still lacks something bright and light like the Ljuscafé.
Don't mind, going out works far more better with me anyway. This morning I had a moment for a break and I went to the boathouse for a short paddle on my own. Though it was still gray and drizzling, out of the cockpit of my yellow Pintail-kayak the world suddenly looked much brighter. What colors do to your mind!

This suddenly upcoming happy feeling was even more surprising as the paddling itself took quit some effort. I got used to take the K1-racer to paddle on the shallow waters around Woerden. But the wind had blown a thick carpet of duckweed on the water before the boathouse and I didn't want to spent the scarse paddling time with constantly removing rests of waterplants of the rudder of the racer. So I decided took the seakayak. Used to the K1 it felt like I was moving a giant heavy vessel in the water and as if I didn't make any speed at all. On water with the surface like a mirror the resistance of the rockered Pintail is of course higher than that of the long stretched waterline of the K1 with its narrow beam - this is like comparing "appels met peren" ("comparing apples with pears" - a Dutch saying) - but the difference will only be a few km's an hour. I was curious about the exact difference and clocked my paddle: I did the 10 km with several low bridges and two portages in 1 hour 12 minutes. The fastest time I have done this in the K1-racer was exactly 1 hour, mostly it takes 1.03 in the K1. The overall average speed with the Pintail is 8 km/h, with the K1 10 km/h. Let's say each portage takes 3 minutes - that makes an average paddling speed 9 km/h for the Pintail, 11 km/h for the K1. That's 25 % plus for the racer - relatively a lot, but on a 10 km paddle only a few minutes difference.
Paddling till exhaustion and calculating all the time - perhaps it doesn't sound so - but it was a great and very relaxing break. The yellow bow of the Pintail blew the dark cloud in my mind away. I should do this every day...

About yellow, besides of what it does to your mind: it's also a very safe color for a kayak. I spoke to the crew of the lifeboat after the rescue of Peters' kayak - they told me they were surprised by the remarkable good visibility of his kayak (a Romany with white hull and yellow deck) between the white caps of the sea. They had no problem finding it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A fatal accident on the river "de Berkel"

I was seriously in doubt if I should write in this personal kayak-weblog about the tragic accident that yesterday happened on the Dutch river "de Berkel". There is no kayak or canoe involved, I am not in any way related to the people and organizations involved, I don't know anything more than the the papers and TV reported today. The easiest way would be to leave it this way, but the news really struck me. I want to share it with you, that's why I write a note about it.

For non-Dutch readers who missed the news and are not able to read the Dutch news item (click here for text and video):
Yesterday two young women died at an accident with a raft on the Dutch stream "de Berkel". De Berkel is a canalized small river that rises in Germany and crosses the Dutch border near the village of Rekken. It's no white water but a gently flowing stream. There are some concrete weirs in the Dutch part of the Berkel. A big raft with 18 women on board descended the Berkel and capsized at one of the weirs. One woman drowned at the weir, the other died a few hours later in hospital.

I want to express condolences to families and friends of the victims. Our thoughts are with them.

It's unknown why the rafters went over the weir. There are multiple and explicit warning signs on a good distance before the weir and there are ramps before and after the weir created to pass it safely by land. It's not clear if the group intendedly neglected the signs, where they unaware of the risks and just looking for some extra adventure? Or didn't they make it to the ramp and were taken by the stream down to the weir? The local authorities have started the investigations.

It sounds bizarre to have an accident like this happen in a flat country where you only can dream of white water. Actually the only serious white water playground in our country is man-made: Dutch Water Dreams. In hundreds of years every natural wild water stream in this country has been tamed (or better call it: "canalized").
It's exactly this canalization with it's many weirs that creates a potential big danger for water sports. The job of a weir is to allow the river to lose gradient and energy at one spot. Most weirs in Dutch rivers are made of concrete and metal, have a very steep ramp and are closed in at both ends by the river banks. Water flowing over such a weir has a lot more energy than in a natural situation. Even small weirs can create "stoppers" (a paddlers' term for a reverse flow of water) of the dangerous sort: full-depth stoppers with a powerful towback that is very likely to hold a swimmer.
It's very sad we are reminded in this cruel way about these risks.